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article imageReview: Anita (Pinocchio) Sarkeesian

By Alexander Baron     Sep 24, 2013 in Entertainment
Anita Sarkeesian calls herself a pop culture critic, and rails against "sexism" in on-line gaming culture, but she has been "owned" several times.
The first thing one notices about Anita Sarkeesian is that she is stunningly attractive. Unlike so-called second wave feminists, the most awful example of which was Andrea Dworkin, (yuk), the spokeswomen for the latest edition do not make themselves deliberate unattractive to men, even if Anita does wear those big hoop earrings simply because she likes them.
Naturally being a "pop culture critic", Anita has her own website, Feminist Frequency, through which she rails against sexist tropes using both unusually temperate language and - at first sight - rational, well thought out, factual arguments. First though, a little historical background.
In simple terms, a trope is a metaphor. Films and other media are not short of these nor of stereotypes. Many films of a certain type have a bad guy, and often at or towards the end, he makes a long speech in which he explains to the good guy how he has gotten the better of him, and so on, before he is undone.
One of what Anita calls tropes is the damsel in distress. Although this trope predates the invention of film by centuries if not millennia, the classic is where the damsel is kidnapped by a moustache twirling villain who ties her to a railroad track where she is rescued by the hero with - in this case - a nanosecond to spare. Unlike a horror film in which like other innocents of both sexes she may be throttled, shot or stabbed to death, this is all good clean fun, and by its very cartoonish nature should not be taken seriously.
Sometimes the damsel is herself a heroine, like Pearl White in The Perils Of Pauline, who finds herself in one life threatening situation after another.
The rise of the personal computer has been accompanied by the rise of gaming, not as in poker, but as in boys of all ages and sometimes both sexes spending hour after countless hour playing games they should have grown out of in high school. Two years ago, the London Daily Telegraph reported that the average gamer was 37 years old.
This begs the question why should anybody least of all an MA (albeit in a soft science) be the slightest bit bothered with the medium? Anita is so bothered, apparently because of its inherent sexism, which obviously she views as a greater threat than climate change and on-line grooming combined.
To this end she has made a series of lengthy videos that warn against the dangers of tropes. You can check them our on both her website and her YouTube channel. So what are these dangers? Misogyny is one. Not everything Anita says is totally without merit, but there is a surprising number of gamers - including women - who disagree with her. Like this one. And here's another one.
Indeed, just as Anita Sarkeesian has gone to extraordinary lengths to find sexism everywhere (not only in video games) some people have gone to even greater lengths to deconstruct almost everything she says. One of the latest offerings is by a young guy who in a short video called Pinocchio Sarkeesian claims to have caught her in the biggest lie of all time. Both Clive Stafford Smith and Gerry Gable might have have something to say about that, but it is clear that either Anita has a very short memory or she has been lying to someone, because we hear her from her own fair lips claiming a) that she has been an enthusiastic gamer since the age of 5 and b) that she has no time for video games. Obviously these two claims are mutually exclusive.
So is Anita nothing but a shameless liar? On this point yes, but the simple fact is that most of the time she is seeing things that are not really there, though one thing about which she is neither dishonest nor mistaken is the hatred that has been directed towards her personally.
She documented this in a tearful TEDx presentation a short while back; it seems this attractive young woman has been pilloried on-line including being deluged with rape threats. She interprets this as misogyny, missing the point that it is her these people hate, not women per se. But, there is an upside to this hate campaign, because after appealing for funds on Kickstarter to make yet another series of videos about the perils of misogynistic tropes, money, which is always too tight to mention, came flooding into her coffers from all over the place, far more than she had appealed for.
Poor Anita doesn't seem to realise that she has become the embodiment of what she hates, namely a living, breathing, stunningly attractive trope of a damsel in distress who has been rescued by a mysterious stranger. A hundred and fifty thousand times over.
More about Anita Sarkeesian, tropes, Sexism, trope
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